August 20, 2006

August's Record You Should Own

What do you mean, you didn't see this coming? I left such obvious clues - August's Record You Should Own is the New York Doll's debut album - not just a solid piece of rock history, but a killer debut that will leave you stunned every time you listen.

Imagine you're living in 1973 - the end of the Nixon era; progressive rock dominating the airwaves; a general era of disillusionment and cynicism overall. Musically, the United States was being set up much like England would be four years later, paving the way for a group to shake the foundations, and leave a creative path to blaze.

The New York Dolls did just that - inspiring bands musically (with its stripped down, souped up arrangements); visually (the band's androgyny and stylishness impacting on future bands) and sonically (Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols has publicly acknowledged Johnny Thunders' guitar style as an influence). However, the proof is in the grooves - from the Little-Richard-fronts-the-MC5 assault of "Personality Crisis" to the swagger of "Looking for a Kiss" (which slightly presages hip-hop); from the monster riffing of "Frankenstein" to the raunchy guitar/country backbeat/girl group backing vocal mashup in "Trash"; from the bluesy cover of Bo Diddley's "Pills" to the stomping finale "Jet Boy". This is an album that has high energy, its fast-and-furious songs in stark contrast to what was available at the time...or even now.

What makes the album such a masterpiece, though, are the lyrics of David Johansen - here are a few examples:
But now your tryin to be someone, now you got to do something
Wanna be someone who counts
But you think about the times you did they took every ounce

Well everyone's goin'to your house, to shoot up in your room
Most of them are beautiful, but so obsessed with gloom
I aint gonna be here, when they all get home
They're always lookin at me, they wont leave me alone

I can't ever understand
Why my life's been cursed poisoned, condemned
When I been tryin every night to hold ya near me
But I'm tellin you it aint easy
So for all of you out there looking for a piece of musical history that doesn't sound like it, and to hear a band that continues to inspire - whether you're Lefty or Logan, you will definitely enjoy this album, and deserves the title, "Record You Should Own"

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